Inconsistent and Arbitrary Age-Based Policies During the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Omer Aloni, Liat Ayalon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced countries to issue public measures to address threats to the safety of citizens and the healthcare system. The role of chronological age in the ways in which different countries coped with the pandemic is particularly intriguing. Based on pool of purposely selected twenty-one countries, this article compares a variety of urgent public health policies that have been enforced during the first wave of the pandemic. It analyzes the ways in which countries introduced instructions related to older people and/or chronological age in relation to: Lockdown, exit and triage policies. It also examined whether the issue of long-term care settings (LTCS) received special attention in the primary guidelines developed in response to the lockdown and exit strategies. The analysis demonstrates inconsistencies within and across countries in the enactment and implementation of age-based measures. Moreover, it suggests that both acts of omission and commission based on age can be interpreted as ageist, arbitrary, not based on evidence, too inclusive, and offensive toward older people and neglectful of specific risk groups.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Aging and Social Policy
Early online date17 Aug 2023
StateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis.


  • Ageism
  • COVID-19
  • World Health Organization
  • discrimination
  • healthcare policy
  • long-term care
  • public policy
  • social distancing
  • triage


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